By Jamie Bryson
Andy Goram lived the dream as a mainstay of the Glasgow Rangers 9-in-row team. He is an Ibrox legend who fulfilled his boyhood dream ending his career playing for Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United. The man, known affectionately as ‘The Goalie’, has also had his fair share of troubles over the years, but his enthusiasm for life remains undimmed. He is a man who still has much to offer the sport he loves so dearly. I started by asking him what he is doing with himself now; “I speak at functions and do question and answer nights. I am not currently involved in coaching, I haven’t been asked. I have so much to give back, I belong on a football pitch and I suppose I am just waiting for the right opportunity to arise”.
I asked Goram whether he missed the buzz of his playing days and how he coped now that part of his life was over. The Bury born man was typically positive saying “I nearly died 15 years ago with Pericarditis. That puts it all into perspective. I live day to day and try to enjoy them all. When I look at the likes of Fernando (Ricksen), and more recently a young player who was at Ibrox with me who has just been diagnosed with MND, I really have no right to complain.”
Andy has been open about his battle with alcoholism, and I wondered whether he felt there was enough support and mental health provision to help professional footballers deal with the ‘come down’ at the end of their career and to re-integrate them into a normal, low intensity lifestyle. He urged young players suffering mental health problems or addiction not to hide it, but to seek help “There’s a lot of help nowadays for players with mental health problems or addiction, more so than when I was playing. I’ve been there as an alcoholic, if anyone- ex player or not- has a problem then speak to someone. Don’t be in denial.”
Many books have been written and documentaries made about the special bond amongst the 9-in-a row team. Goram says their bond wasn’t manufactured, but that they genuinely loved and respected each other; “That bond was real, genuine. It wasn’t manufactured and a lot of it was actually down to the gaffer (Walter Smith). He brought in great players, but great players that would fit in our dressing room” He continued “We loved and respected each other, that was the secret and we’d shed blood and tears for each other, in fact we often did.”
Judging the best player he played with was a difficult one for Goram. The Rangers legend says he never had the privilege of playing with Davie Cooper and Jim Baxter, and singles out two 9-in-a-row legends as the best players he did play with.
He said “I was lucky enough to play with Brian (Laudrup) and Gazza. They were special with little to pick between them. I have to go for Laudrup because he had a great wine cellar, but that’s another story.”
When asked whether he would have swapped his time at Rangers to instead have been No 1 for Manchester United during their reign of supremacy under Sir Alex Ferguson, Goram has a one word answer, “no”. He then went on to say “Walter Smith gave me the best 7 years of my life; I wouldn’t swap that for anything. Sir Alex put the icing on the cake signing me for Manchester United.”
Turning to the current situation at Rangers, Goram is cautiously optimistic “We have definitely improved and European football is back at Ibrox which is fantastic. But, we fell way short in the first Old Firm game of the season. It is a work in progress but we are definitely going in the right direction.”
The goalie isn’t a man to harbour regrets; he lives life to the full and makes no apologies for it. He does however have one regret, when he let down the man he still calls gaffer,
“I disrespected the gaffer once by not returning from Tenerife. That was a big regret and disappointment. He put me on the transfer list, and rightly so, but he got the right reaction from me and I was rewarded with a new contract” he then added with a smile “he is a great man”.
It is evident that Goram is a man that lived the dream, made some mistakes along the way but continues to enjoy life. His love for Rangers is as strong as ever. I finished by asking how he would like to be remembered, he said simply “as a Rangers man”.